Around May or June 2008, BlackBerry owners using Verizon Wireless started discovering a new icon on their home screens. Labeled Trooper Typing, the icon looks looks like an airplane dropping a paratrooper.
Those affected began screaming and posting questions all over the web.
This article answers:
- Where did this icon come from?
- What is it for?
- Why is this happening?
- How can I delete it?
- Will it keep coming back?
- Is it worth keeping?
Even if you’re not with Verizon Wireless, what you will learn in this article is very useful to know, as other wireless providers practice similar techniques. Plus, you just might discover a useful game.
Trooper Typing: A Game
Trooper Typing is a free game from Magmic Games. But don’t bother looking for it on the Magmic web site, because it doesn’t seem to be distributed there. (But if you do like games, then it is worth a visit.) I have a suspicion that there may be an exclusive deal between Verizon Wireless and Magmic for this game. But why? Read on…
The BlackBerry Pearl, Its Keyboard, and SureType
This paragraph contains some speculation on my part; I welcome different opinions. What I originally found–and still find–most appealing about the BlackBerry Pearl is its wonderfully compact size. That size is achieved by the use of its unusual keyboard, where one key is shared by as many as three characters, typically one digit and two letters. It is not a so-called full QWERTY keyboard.
This compact keyboard can be used with two techniques: multitap or SureType. Known to probably anyone who has ever sent a text message, multitap, used even on not-so-smart phones, lets you click once for the first character, twice for any second character, third for any third character, etc.
SureType is much more sophisticated, and for many people, more confusing. It uses predictive typing with the help of a built-in and a custom dictionary. As explained in my tutorials on using SureType, it actually works best if you don’t look at what you’re typing.
A big problem is…that many Pearl owners just don’t want to learn SureType. They get frustrated and come to hate their phones. Many return their new phones while still in the trial period. Others unleash a barrage of phone calls to their carrier’s customer support. For a wireless service provider, this is a nightmare.
I strongly believe that Verizon Wireless, out of either desperation or smart business thinking (you decide), launched a preemptive strike on its Pearl owners. It used a technique apparently called Virtual Preloading (VPL) to push to their Pearl customers something they hoped would alleviate the problems and complaints associated with SureType. That VPL, in this case, is a hyperlink to a free download of the Trooper Typing game.
Virtual Preload: A Service Book
If you don’t feel like getting a vocabulary lesson, you can safely scan or even skip over this section. The point is to give some background for those who want to understand the why and how of the process of deleting Trooper Typing.
A BlackBerry is really a computer (albeit with extraordinary communication capabilities), and a multitasking computer–meaning it can do several tasks at one time. Such tasks that run concurrently are often referred to as services. For your phone to work right, it must have all the proper services running. And for them to run, they have to be loaded (installed, or pre-loaded) in the first place.
Well, to paraphrase an ancient saying, “Stuff Happens.” And stuff happens to BlackBerry service programs. So, your wireless provider needs to be able to automatically restore service programs, or upload new ones, to get your phone back working after it experiences a problem. RIM (Research in Motion, the manufacturer of the BlackBerry) calls such uploads service books. If a service that is normally preloaded when your phone is new in the box needs to be re-loaded after you have begun using your phone, that corrective action is called a virtual preload.
How to Delete Trooper Typing
Please read to the end of this article before making your decision to delete the Trooper Typing icon.
The Trooper Typing icon (actually a hyperlink) on the Pearl Home Screen was pushed in the form of a BlackBerry service book. So, to delete it, simply do this: Options > Advanced Options > Service Book. Scroll to the service book for Trooper Typing, press the Menu key, and select Delete (as shown in the screenshot below).
But Will it Keep Coming Back?
Based on my experience the last couple of months, being a Verizon Wireless customer myself, the answer is, “Yes.” Yes, it will.
Being gifted with powers of extra-sensory perception, I can tell from here that you are not happy with that knowledge. And also having the power of predicting the future, I have prepared in advance two recommendations for you.
Recommendation 1: Hide it and Forget it
Having an icon, in this case a hyperlink only, on your Home Screen takes up a miniscule amount of memory, so it really does no harm at all. If you roll your trackball over the icon, press the Menu key, and select Hide, the icon will be hidden, and take up no space on your Home Screen. So, it’s as good as gone. Really,…it’s as good as deleted.
Recommendation 2: Download Trooper Typing and PLAY IT
I’m dead serious, even though I am really not a gamer (video games, computer games, or smartphone games). I do know from running this blog that people struggle mightily with SureType, and many became totally discouraged about their purchase of a BlackBerry Pearl. That’s tragic. So, although I disapprove of Verizon’s forcing of the icon to our phones, I grudgingly must concede it might just help a lot of people with a Pearl. And since that is a fundamental premise of newBBie.com–helping BlackBerry newBBies, I have to see the positive side of this situation.
Even if you download the game and don’t like it, or just get tired of it, you can still delete the game and fall back to Recommendation 1 to deal with the inevitable return of the VPL’ed icon.
To delete the game, do Options > Advanced Options > Applications, scroll to the Trooper Typing app, press Menu key, and select Delete.
About the Game
The scenario of the game is that a military transport plane is carrying paratroopers over a drop zone. Your mission is to kill the paratroopers. (My deepest apologizes to those of you with connections to the US 82nd Airborne, British SAS, Australian SASR, and similar units. Think of these guys as the enemy, despite the fact that the aircraft looks like a cross between a US C-141 Starlifter and a C-130 Hercules. Also, read about Just War doctrine. Or remember–it’s only a game.)
When the paratroopers drop, they have a word written above them. Try to type the word before the paratrooper reaches the ground. If you get it right, you score points. Remember that SureType is active while you’re typing, so you get to practice using SureType. You may just come to see how fast and efficient it can really be.
We’ve learned that our wireless carriers can sneakily inject stuff into our phones, both for good or evil. I’ve read of some carriers using the VPL technique to try to generate sales. Booooo! I honestly believe Verizon Wireless used this technique to staunch the bleeding from their customers who were frustrated with SureType and ready to toss their Pearls. Maybe this VPL trick wasn’t the most friendly solution, but what would you do in their place? Comments welcome.